Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Feb;8(2):60-5.

Why be nice? Psychological constraints on the evolution of cooperation.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. jstevens@wjh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Animals often aid others without gaining any immediate benefits. Although these acts seem to reduce the donor's fitness, they are only apparently altruistic. Donors typically help because they or their kin receive future benefits or avoid costly punishment. Reciprocal altruism--alternating the roles of donor and recipient--has been a well-studied form of cooperation among non-kin because of its intuitive appeal in explaining human cooperation. Despite immense theoretical interest, little empirical evidence substantiates the biological importance of reciprocal altruism in non-human animals. We propose that this is because psychological mechanisms constrain its application in cooperative contexts. In particular, we contend that cognitive limitations such as temporal discounting, numerical discrimination and memory make reciprocity difficult for animals.

PMID:
15588809
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2003.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center